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Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock @thanks_management/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘My rent went from $1,850 to $1,468’: Woman says her landlord overcharged her by thousands. Here’s how she found out

'I think u just changed my life.'

 

Braden Bjella

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Posted on Feb 1, 2024   Updated on Feb 2, 2024, 1:52 pm CST

One woman on TikTok says she discovered her landlord had been overcharging her on rent for a year. She reveals how she found out in a viral video.

Last year, the city of New York saw incredibly high rent prices. Manhattan saw a median rent price of $4,000 per month, while in Brooklyn, median prices hovered at around $3,300. Given this, it’s no surprise that a study found that “renters in NYC must earn nearly twice the city’s median income to satisfy the ‘30% rule,’” which states that “no more than 30% of your income should go to rent,” per CBS News. Additionally, around a third of New Yorkers spend approximately half of their income on rent, per the New York Post.

When landlords aren’t increasing rent prices, they’re often finding other ways to get additional money out of potential tenants. Sometimes, these take the form of brokerage fees, which typically range from a month’s rent to 12 to 15% of a year’s rent.

These fees can get so high that some brokerages can face penalties. Recently, “New York’s Department of State reached a settlement with a New York City brokerage to pay $260,000 in penalties for charging ‘excessive’ broker fees, including a $20,000-plus commission on a rent-stabilized Upper West Side apartment in 2022,” reads a piece in Brick Underground.

Another way that landlords can extract extra money is by, either intentionally or accidentally, concealing the terms of an apartment’s rent stabilization. Rent stabilization significantly limits the amount an apartment’s rent can be increased year over year.

TikTok user Carla discovered this deception for herself and managed to save some money in the process, she says in a TikTok video with over 2.3 million views.

According to Carla, she had signed a lease to pay $1,850 per month for a rent-stabilized apartment. When it came time to renew, she did not receive paperwork from her landlord—so, she decided to reach out to the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) to see the terms of her building’s rent stabilization.

“Three days later, the [DHCR] actually sends me my rent history for this apartment, and this is where things get juicy,” she explains. “My landlord had been reporting to the [DHCR] that I was paying $1,295 a month…I was paying $1,850.”

Upon discovering this, she contacted DHCR to see how she should resolve the issue. She was told that she would either need to handle it with the landlord himself, or they could assist her in pursuing a case against him. Carla opted for the former.

“I contact my landlord, and I’m like, ‘Hey, I’m ready to re-sign my lease,’ and he comes zipping over like an hour later, all eager for me to sign,” she recalls. “Now when he gets to my apartment, I hit him with the [DHCR] papers and I was like, ‘Would you care to explain?’”

Eventually, the two were able to work out a deal in which the landlord paid back the extra rent and security deposit, which equaled around $6,000.

“So for my lease that I signed for the next few years, I’m actually paying $1,468—so my rent went from $1,850 to $1,468,” she summarizes.

@thanks_management #stitch with @Review & Rent NYC Apartments #fyp #nyc #nycapartment #nycrent #nycrealestate #nycapartments ♬ original sound – Carla Mia

Carla later posted a follow-up video answering some of the common questions asked in response to her initial video.

@thanks_management Replying to @DianaBidea Music rentguidelinesboard.cityofnewyork.us #nyc #nycapartments #nycrent ♬ original sound – Carla Mia

In the comments section, users spoke to the value of doing what Carla did.

“My love. I think u just changed my life. Bc I just checked and my apartment is rent stabilized and I am NOT paying stabilized rent,” said a commenter.

“Just found out I am stabilized I have been over charged 700$ for 5 years,” offered another.

“I mean…I went the lawsuit route because I lived there 6 years…six figure damage check and my rent is 1200 FOR THE REST OF TIME,” recounted a third.

“This happened to my cousin and his landlord didn’t show to his court date so the judge restored 1970’s rent,” alleged a further TikToker.

The Daily Dot reached out to Carla via Instagram direct message.

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*First Published: Feb 1, 2024, 2:00 pm CST